By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer
SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The pace of Rhode Island’s economic recovery accelerated during the third and fourth quarters of 2012, according to University of Rhode Island economist Leonard Lardaro’s analysis of recently released revised labor market data. Even better news, he said, is that the trend continued into the New Year.
“After strong third and fourth quarters in 2012, Rhode Island began 2013 on yet another positive note,” Lardaro reported in his January Current Conditions Index. “Our state’s labor force appears to have finally begun to rise again, starting last August. That upward trend makes the improvements in our state’s unemployment rate more significant.”
Lardaro’s CCI puts a figure to the state’s economic performance over a dozen metrics, measuring momentum, not values.
A CCI indicator greater than 50 indicates progress while a value less than 50 signals setbacks. The CCI for January was 75, down from 83 in December, but up from 67 in January 2012. Lardaro said that as of January, the state’s recovery was 35 months old.
Lardaro points out that nine of the 12 measured CCI indicators approved in January, with several “very strong, favorable trends” including retail sales which saw a 6.9 percent increase over December and has exceeded 6 percent growth for three of the past four months.
Other significant gains were in a 38.7 percent decrease in benefit exhaustions, a 9 percent decrease in new unemployment claims, and a 6.5 percent increase in employment service jobs.
There were some negative numbers shown in the January CCI. Single-use permits were down by 8.4 percent and government employment was down .8 percent.
“The good news is that Rhode Island’s economy did turn around in 2012. The eagerly awaited turn in the economy has been here for some time now,” Lardaro said. “The bad news is that while Rhode Island was improving, so too were almost all other states. We are better in absolute terms but remain lacking in relative terms.”